by John Knetemann
In general binomial nomenclature (the names of species) and other scientific terms will be presented in Latin. For example, the scientific name of a dog is a canis lupus familiarus. However, even though Latin is used in this way, no one really speaks Latin anymore! So naming Latin the language of science seems rather silly.
When it comes down to it, there is no doubt that English is the language of science. Michael Gordin, a professor at Princeton for the history of modern sciences, says this: “If you look around the world in 1900, and someone told you, ‘Guess what the universal language of science will be in the year 2000?’ You would first of all laugh at them because it was obvious that no one language would be the language of science, but a mixture of French, German and English would be the right answer.”
He goes on to explain that English did not necessarily become the language of science due to efficiency or some increase of use among the scientific community, but because in the 1900s German collapsed as the language of science due to historical events. Furthermore, the United States became a powerhouse of efficiency, and adopted seemingly isolationist policies causing foreign language exposure to drop exponentially in the scientific community.
With that in mind, there are many people across the world that are learning English as a second language because of their ambitions to become a scientist or an engineer. What do you think? Is having English be the universal language of science a good or bad thing? Should it be something else? Or perhaps the scientific community should be more diverse in its languages?